Common Questions - About Reed

PDX downtownstudent imagestudent image

Information about Reed online

For a quick overview, check out More detailed statistics can be found at

When was Reed College founded?

Reed was founded in 1908 in accordance with the wills of Portlanders Simeon and Amanda Reed, who amassed their fortune in agriculture, mining, lumber, and the riverboat trade on the Columbia River. They established the college at the urging of prominent Portland Unitarian minister Thomas Lamb Eliot. The first classes were held in a building in downtown Portland in 1911 and were moved to the present location in 1912.

Back to Top

Where does Reed fit?

Reed attracts enthusiastic students-and often brings out the best in them. A 2007 survey of graduating seniors at 39 respected liberal arts colleges found Reed students 18% more likely to be satisfied with their education than the national average and 22% more likely to say they would choose their college again. Reed ranks first among liberal arts colleges in the United States in the percentage of graduates who go on to earn doctoral degrees and third among all institutions of higher education, including the major research universities. But don't assume that this level of intellectual excellence precludes success in non-academic pursuits. A disproportionately high number of Reed graduates have gone on to found or lead companies and organizations, earn medical or law degrees, write books or create works of art, or work to make life on the planet better for all.

You won't learn much about Reed from the U. S. News and World Report rankings. Since 1995, Reed has refused to submit data to the magazine on the premise that the college choice is too individual and important to be reduced to a set of numbers. Instead, should you want an independent assessment of Reed, we suggest such publications as Guide to the Most Competitive Colleges (Barron's), Cool Colleges for the Hyper-Intelligent, Self-Directed, Late Blooming, and Just Plain Different (Ten Speed Press), Colleges That Change Lives (Penguin USA), The Hidden Ivies (Cliff Street Books), and The Fiske Guide to Colleges (Sourcebooks).

Back to Top

What's Reed really like?

Reed attracts serious students who do not take themselves too seriously. They are defined by a passion for learning and a spirit of independence. Students come to Reed from across the country and around the globe, bringing a diversity of viewpoints and backgrounds as well as openness to new experiences. The Reed community shares a desire for academic integrity and intellectual growth, and a collective interest in free expression and autonomy. Reed's intimate size (about 1,400 students) promotes substantial interaction among its students, faculty, and staff.

Back to Top

Are there ways for parents to stay involved?

Yes, and not just when it is time to pay the bill. Reed tries to keep parents in the loop as much as possible, beginning with a parent orientation program each August during the first two days of student orientation. In addition, the college maintains a parent-specific web page; mails out a parent handbook, the quarterly campus magazine, and parent communications; and each November hosts Parent and Family Weekend on campus. Other points of involvement include Alumni College-an annual opportunity for parents to return to the classroom under the instruction of Reed professors and alumni-the Parent Council, and meetings and receptions for parents in large cities throughout the academic year.

Back to Top

Where is the Reed College campus?

The Reed campus encompasses 116 acres in southeast Portland, approximately 20 minutes from downtown Portland and 20 minutes from the Portland International Airport. Reed is accessible from these locations by the city transit system, car or taxi, or an airport shuttle. Reed's address is 3203 SE Woodstock Boulevard, Portland, Oregon 97202-8199. See the visitor's guide for a map and driving directions.

Back to Top

How would you describe Portland and the surrounding area?

Portland is described as a beautiful and friendly city. It was named the "the best place to live in America" in the December 2000 issue of Money magazine. A series of bridges span the Willamette River uniting the east side, where Reed is located, with the west side of the city. Libraries, museums, theatres, restaurants, coffee shops, music clubs, and a variety of businesses on both sides of the river offer considerable opportunities for learning and recreation. Portland is characterized by its wealth of green spaces, including numerous city parks. Within one to two hours, you can drive to the Pacific Ocean, the Cascade mountains, and the Columbia River Gorge.

Back to Top

What computing facilities are available to students?

Central computing facilities for students are open 24 hours a day, 364 days a year. The campus network reaches all residence hall rooms, classrooms, labs, offices, and common areas. The educational technology center, completed in August 2002, houses more than 150 computers and a variety of other teaching and technology resources used by students, faculty, and staff members.

Back to Top

How extensive are Reed's library facilities?

The library holds more than 580,000 volumes, 5800 periodical subscriptions, and 23,000 videos and sound recordings. More than 17,000 volumes are added each year. The collections of thirty-five other Northwest academic libraries are readily available to students through a consortial agreement that supplies materials within 48 hours. The library is open 120 hours per week, with 24-hour access during finals. The catalog, databases, and numerous full-text online resources are accessible through the library's web pages. Reference assistance is available both in person and via email. The library building offers open books stacks and a variety of seating and study spaces, with both wired and wireless access to the internet. A computer-equipped reading room is a popular place for doing research, writing papers, or checking email.

Back to Top

What are the most popular majors at Reed?

In the graduating class of 2007, the most popular majors were biology (37), psychology (22), English (21), and philosophy (21). View a complete list of grads by department, or see more enrollment figures. Click here for a complete list of Reed's academic departments and links to information about specific academic majors.

Back to Top

How do I reach staff or faculty members at the college?

The campus switchboard (503/771-1112) can put you in touch with all campus offices and departments. Staff and faculty members may also be reached through Reed's electronic mail system; address your questions to

Back to Top

What are the financial requirements for attending Reed?

Full tuition, room, and board for the 2007-08 academic year are $45,880. Approximately 50 percent of students at Reed received need-based financial aid in 2007-08. The typical financial aid package, consisting of grants, scholarships, work-study, and loans, was $32,154, with an average of $25,960 in Reed grant monies. The average student loan indebtedness at graduation is $17,098. Learn how to get help financing a Reed education online.

Back to Top

How are the needs of the Reed community supported?

Reed alumni, parents and friends volunteer their time and energy to a variety of college programs and provide regular financial support for Reed's academic programs. In the 2007 fiscal year, 4,218 alumni gave over $10.7 million to Reed College. 1,253 parents made gifts to Reed totaling $2,353,363. $392,724 of that went to Reed's parent fund, directly supporting essential student services, faculty salaries, and library and technical resources. To find out more about making a gift to Reed, visit our secure online giving page, or call our toll free number, 877/865-1469. Many volunteer opportunities for parents include working with the admission office, career services, or serving on the parent council.

Back to Top

What are the average SAT scores for students entering Reed?

Reed students demonstrate impressive academic strength in many ways: SAT scores are an important part of a broad portfolio that Reed uses to evaluate students for admission. This year's incoming class had an average SAT score of 2071 and an average high school GPA of 3.9, with 61 percent in the top tenth of their class.

Back to Top

Where is Reed ranked among educational institutions?

Since 1995, Reed has made the decision to refuse to participate in the U.S. News and World Report annual survey, which is the basis of the publication's annual ranking of colleges. The Reed community questions the notion that a college or a student's college experience can be boiled down to a set of numbers and a ranking.

Consider these statistics instead:

  • Based on a 2003 national survey of graduating seniors from 52 national, private liberal arts colleges, Reed's graduating seniors were one and a half times as likely to be satisfied with their undergraduate education, and almost twice as likely to attend the same institution again.
  • Reed ranks first among all colleges and universities in the United States in the percentage of its graduates who go on to earn a Ph.D. in the biological sciences and third overall in all disciplines. Among liberal arts colleges, Reed is first in the nation in the percentage of future Ph.D.s in all disciplines.
  • A disproportionately large number of Reed graduates go on to found or lead organizations or companies; earn medical, law, or business degrees; write books; create notable works of art; or work to make life on the planet better for all.

If you would like to learn more about Reed from a third-party perspective-one that's not based on rankings-try the following books: Cool Colleges: For the Hyper-Intelligent, Self-Directed, Late Blooming, and Just Plain Different (Ten Speed Press), Colleges That Change Lives (Penguin USA), The Hidden Ivies (Cliff Street Books), and Fiske Guide to Colleges (Sourcebooks).

Back to Top

Where can I purchase Reed memorabilia?

The Reed College bookstore, whose main purpose is to provide the Reed community with textbooks, general books, school supplies, and other college essentials, also carries a wide variety of Reed gift items. Go to the bookstore web site or call Jules Wright at 503/777-7757 to find out about the wide variety of Reed memorabilia, ranging from t-shirts to pilsner glasses to frisbees.

Back to Top

on sidewalk lab students